Scott Newell: Bluewater Ropes

Scott Newell's family has been involved in textile manufacturing in Georgia since 1903, but its current incarnation, making climbing ropes, dates from his father Dick's interest in spelunking during the late 1960s. He found there were no decent ropes for the pits, so began to make one himself. Accomplished rock climbers Wayne Goss and Jeff Lowe heard about the operation, and convinced Dick to start making high-elongation rope for rock climbing, since there were no American companies producing it, which made the ropes prohibitively expensive. As the company grew, Dick's son Scott watched; now he runs the show. "I grew up with a rope braiding machine in the basement, so I never really got away from the business," says Scott. "It's not about the dollars – keeping this place going is more of a personal commitment. I still enjoy manufacturing and love the freedom of making interesting stuff."